This is more than a little bit of a “well, duh, somebody has to have thought of that before” thing, but I can’t recall anybody actually proposing it prior to this: installing solar panels in (or next to) a wind farm facility.
The biggest problems (other than cost) for wind and solar energy is that they’re both inconsistent and produce more energy in areas that tend to be unpopulated. This means that they require large capital costs to build power storage and transmission infrastructure in order for them to function like gas/coal/oil power plants, which can be turned up or down as needed and can be built right next to where the power’s needed.
So GE and Invenergy have teamed up to construct a solar facility right next to a wind farm in Illinois, allowing the two facilities to use the same transmission lines and support each other in their respective low-production periods. Efficient, no? Like I said, I’m wondering why I can’t recall hearing about this before. Other than my memory being faulty (which it is, sadly) are there reasons this hasn’t been done up till now?
Luminescent solar concentrator cells are one method of improving the efficiency of a solar cell: converting the light hitting the cell into a particular wavelength, and using a photovoltaic cell tuned to convert light of that particular wavelength into electricity. A new way of designing the concentrator cells is, instead of making them into flat sheets like traditional solar panels, form them into hollow cylinders, which apparently significantly increases their efficiency.
- One of the things that I’m going to be keeping an eye on this year is the legal status of civilian drone use. The reason I bring this up is that Sea Shepherd (the vigilante anti-whaling group) has received permission from the Australian government to use drones to track the Japanese whaling fleet.
- Speaking of civvie surveillance drones… here are some toy versions for making mischief.
- And, lest we forget, there are certain improvements that have to be made for drones to work in busy airspaces and around cities. Like avoiding other aircraft and knowing what spots are safe for an emergency landing.
- Smart traffic lights – they’re a dream for planners and commuters, and a nightmare for people who deal with them when they glitch. Still, maybe if they have something that tells them what’s at the intersection, that’ll help a little.
- A new pathway for cybercrime (and possibly assassination): hacking your car. Seriously, if you hook a car up to the internet, this will happen. Who, when, where, why, and how aren’t possible to determine, but it will happen. Really doesn’t make me look forward to buying my next car…
- Sleeves that track your arm movements, another way for people and companies to improve productivity.
- Connect your home appliances, thermostat, power and water supply, etc, to a single electrical monitoring system, which you can access and control via the internet. This is a smart home, and we’re likely to see more and better in the coming decade or two.
- Oh hey, I was talking about the US military’s budget plans yesterday, and here they are in the news: Wired and DefenseTech have articles on Obama’s and Panetta’s plans for the military. They were also on the network news quite a bit, too.
- There’s been some chatter on the blogosphere about the USAF X-37B spaceplane spying on China’s space station/lab. Not sure if it’s legit concerns or just a bit of noise that lacks real substance.
More talk about how water is going to be a huge crisis point sometime down the road:
80% of Brazil’s latest power supply auction (to provide power to the government) bids were for wind power:
USGov approves new nuclear reactor design:
A Hawaiian windfarm using batteries to smooth out its power production:
Apple’s designs and patents of fuel-cells for laptops:
A battery that runs on paper:
Nano-engineered solar-power paint: